LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Disgraced shock jock Don Imus, who was fired by CBS Radio six months ago in an uproar over an on-air racial slur he made, has signed a deal to return to radio on Dec. 3 with a new nationally syndicated morning show.
Imus will broadcast his show out of the AM-radio station WABC in New York, airing daily from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., and be syndicated around the United States through ABC Radio Networks, which is owned by Citadel Broadcasting Corp, the company said on Thursday.
“We are ecstatic to bring Don Imus back to morning radio,” WABC President and General Manager Steve Borneman said in a statement posted on the station’s Web site.
“Don’s unique brand of humor, knowledge of the issues and ability to attract big-name guests is unparalleled. He is rested, fired up and ready to do great radio,” Borneman added.
The announcement said Imus would be returning to the airwaves with “his team,” including his longtime newsman and sidekick Charles McCord. But there was no mention of whether Imus would be subject to any new limitations on his often-provocative and insulting commentary.
Imus, 67, whose CBS program blended locker-room humor with interviews of A-list politicians and other leading lights, had been widely reported to be close to a deal with Citadel-owned WABC for several weeks.
His old “Imus in the Morning” show was canceled in April after he referred to the mostly black Rutgers University women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos” — a phrase that combined an antiquated term for coarse, curly hair with a slang word for whore.
The original show was produced and broadcast by the CBS-owned WFAN radio station in New York and syndicated on some 60 stations nationally. The program also was simulcast on cable television’s MSNBC.
CBS and MSNBC first suspended Imus for two weeks, but as calls for his dismissal grew, notably from New York civil rights leader Al Sharpton, MSNBC canceled his show, and CBS followed suit the next day.
At the time of his dismissal, it seemed Imus might be facing the end of his nearly 40-year-long radio career. The ex-Marine said he was sorry for his remarks and later met with members of the Rutgers team to apologize in person, but the controversy sparked a public debate about crude language and racial humor on the airwaves.
Sharpton issued a statement on Thursday urging Imus’ new employer to inform advertisers and others “how they intend to safeguard against Mr. Imus returning to his former vile and biased behavior.”
A spokeswoman for the Rutgers women’s basketball team declined comment on the upcoming return of Imus.
In August, the curmudgeonly radio personality and CBS settled their termination dispute in a deal reported to be worth $10 million to $20 million, clearing the way for him to seek a new broadcast outlet.
At the time he was fired, Imus was working under a five-year contract valued at $40 million.